Expected to be one of the top players in Alabama this season, Mitchell will instead have to cheer on his teammates from the sidelines as he will miss the entire season following surgery to repair his knee.
"He was just running a route and he planted and it went wrong," Opelika Coach Brian Blackmon tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "It was a non-contact thing. He had his MRI this morning and it was completely torn. He will be done this season. He won't play again at Opelika.
"It's horrible," Blackmon adds. "It's part of athletics now and unfortunately it's just one of those things. That's why I tried to share with Jakell that fortunately he's been blessed with a lot of ability. He's got an opportunity to play again at the next level. There are so many kids out there that won't get that opportunity that may have that happen to them. Luckily he's got an opportunity to play again."
A talented two-way player for the Bulldogs that did everything on offense from catching passes to running the football and even playing a little wildcat quarterback, Mitchell was poised to have a huge senior season in 2013. Blackmon says even with all of the things he can do on the field, it's the intangibles that Mitchell brings to the table that are huge and he hopes that will continue this season.
"Emotionally it's such a hard thing for all of us because he's such a big part of the attitude of our team," Blackmon says. "He's the guy that kind of sets that toughness mentality for us. Not to mention he does so many different things. We don't have a player on our team who can do all of the things he does. It's going to take a lot of guys stepping up and filling the different roles that he used to.
"When I talked to him this afternoon one of the things I expressed to him was that the goal for him is now to be able to find a way to make an impact on our team without being on the field," the coach adds. "He's the type of player who can do that."
A 6-3, 220 tight end who can also play H-Back on the next level, Mitchell led Opelika with 26 receptions for 365 yards as a junior. He also led the team in rushing touchdowns with 14 last year. Blackmon says he has no doubt that Mitchell will come back better than ever following this setback.
"It's one of those humbling experiences the good Lord gives us just to remind us sometimes that he can take everything away from us in one minute," Blackmon says. "Luckily this is just a knee injury, but for somebody that has worked as hard as he has you know how disappointed he is. That makes everybody that cares about him hurt, too."